“I am taking a few days off from ‘The Talk’ to be with my family. I will be back soon and will see you Thursday night on ‘Big Brother,'” Chen said in a statement ahead of the broadcast.
But the news was still front-and-center on the chatfest. Host Sharon Osbourne kicked off the show saying, “It’s a very bittersweet day for a Season 9. We’re about to talk about something that affects everyone’s lives at CBS. I’ve never been nervous in my life, and I’m very nervous right now. As you all know, Julie’s husband is in the news, and she’s taking off time to be with her family.”
After leading CBS Corp. for 25 years, Moonves stepped down as chairman-CEO as new sexual assault allegations surfaced. Additional women leveled sexual harassment and assault allegations against the mogul in an explosive expose in the New Yorker on Sunday by Ronan Farrow. Sunday’s story followed a July report by Farrow with allegations from six women. CBS chief operating officer Joe Ianniello has been named acting CEO of the company.
“I want to say that whatever times I’ve had of hardship over the past eight years, Julie has always been there for me,” added Osbourne. “She’s been a friend. She’s been someone who I admire and respect greatly. It’s very embarrassing and upsetting to have to talk about her husband, but we do. We feel it’s right. I personally know Les Moonves in a superficial way. It was, ‘Hello, how are you?’ Nothing more. I know nothing about the man, other than that he’s Julie’s husband, and he was the head of the biggest network in the world, and the most powerful man in TV.”
Osbourne said she was asked to make a statement supporting Moonves after initial allegations surfaced a few months ago. Osbourne called her statement at the time “diplomatic,” but says she feels differently now that more women have come forward.
“The stories are so similar, the pattern is so similar, that for me, he’s not been convicted of any crime, but obviously the man has a problem,” she said.
Co-host Sara Gilbert chimed in to support Chen. “We’ve been together since the beginning. I love her, I support her always,” Gilbert said. “However, this is an important time in our culture, and just because this hits close to home, it doesn’t change the story. All women’s stories, and these women’s stories, matter. This is very serious, and the appropriate actions need to take place. I am happy when women are heard because for a long time, they haven’t been.”
Osbourne got emotional discussing the story of one of Moonves’ accusers, Phyllis Golden-Gottlieb. Golden-Gottlieb, a TV executive, alleges that Moonves sexually assaulted her in the 1980s, and said the powerful executive “absolutely ruined my career” after she rebuffed his advances.
“Why is it that when men get power, it goes to their testicles? I do not know why, but it’s true,” Osbourne said.
Moonves issued a statement on Sunday night, citing “untrue allegations” about his behavior, and saying he was “deeply saddened to be leaving the company.”
Sexual misconduct allegations were first leveled against Moonves in July, which Chen did briefly address on “The Talk” the following week.
“Some of you may be aware of what’s been going on in my life for the past few days,” Chen said at the time. “I issued the one and only statement I will ever make on this topic on Twitter. I will stand by that statement today, tomorrow, forever.”
The statement Chen was referring to, posted at the end of July, read, “I have known my husband, Leslie Moonves, since the late ‘90s, and I have been married to him for almost 14 years. Leslie is a good man and a loving father, devoted husband and inspiring corporate leader. He has always been a kind, decent and moral human being. I fully support my husband.”